Driving through Ethiopia, you see large amounts of plastic by the sides of the roads. Here and there, you see some of it piled up, because people tried to collect it. It upsets me to see so many people simply throw their plastic on the ground. Why would you do that? But perhaps that just illustrates that I think as a westerner. And to be honest, there are still plenty of people littering plastic in the Netherlands too. Plastic waste is a major problem in any country.
Many countries have started to try and tackle the problem. The most well-known example is probably Ocean Cleanup, a project that aims to clean up the plastic soup in the oceans. And there are initiatives in Africa too. Kenya, for example, introduced a ban on plastic bags. A rule that affects the horticultural companies too.
Generally speaking, horticultural companies in Africa are committed to sustainable and social entrepreneurship, even if the media sometimes paint a different picture. We all remember the commotion surrounding the report on Sher in Ethiopie that Zembla broadcasted two years ago. I don’t want to say that everything was hunky-dory over there, but as far as I know, things weren’t as bad as suggested.
This study trip brings mixed feelings: it’s sad to see all the littering and heaps of plastic in the fields and on the streets, but so joyful to be greeted like a VIP by the enthusiastic children of a school in Koka in Ethiopia. The school is supported by breeding and propagation companies Florensis, Dümen Orange and Syngenta as part of their Social and Environmental Organisation. In addition to schools, they support many other (social) projects. There’s more information about the foundation’s activities on the companies’ websites.
Let’s focus more on the positive developments in Africa. I hope that the efforts made by the horticultural companies in Africa will get some more attention, not just in Vakblad voor de Bloemisterij/ Floribusiness, but also in media outside the sector. I’ve seen with my own eyes that they deserve it.
Peter van Leth,